Lately we see machines returned to objects of utility. They have wandered off the list of accepted tropes. Eulalie invents a name for the phenomenon but questions its validity almost immediately, answering her as yet non-existent critics with a kind of nodding and shuffling that takes its cue primarily from deep-water crabs washed up on distant black sand beaches every January. Out of sight, though, late at night when the moon is scratching at the windows, she sticks pins into figures she has fashioned with bits of canvas left over from the outfitting of enormous airships and strewn mysteriously along the roadside for about twenty miles. She says words over them that she knows mean nothing whatsoever, that don’t have so much as the mathematical threat of influenza associated with them. But she continues for at least half an hour until I threaten to leave. It’s at moments like this that I begin to wonder what the point of our interaction, if you can call it that, is. I mean, where are her earlobes and how does one delay the overwhelming desire to perform in civic rituals and masques without consequently destroying the part of one’s self that believes rituals and masques are so similar they ought not to have separate appellations? Eulalie tampers with the edge of each page until it is no longer recognizable as an edge; it looks more like a portal of some sort, a subtly graded demarcation that you don’t know you are entering until it is too late, and I think this is intentional on her part because no sooner has she finished than she is inviting me again to read to her out loud from what is written there, the fairy tales and the lengthy annotations hand-written in indigo ink, the reports from the neighboring portions of the continent where they are preparing for yet another conflict by sharpening their hand axes and their very long sticks and they are practicing their military drills which consist mostly, as near as I can tell, of walking around in circles with their hand axes and their very long sticks displayed prominently at their sides or held up proudly and provocatively in the air so that the entire mob begins to look like the glistening surface of an enormous passing porcupine. Of course, this being a marshal occasion of some standing, it is imperative that their favorite anthems be on their lips for the duration, and the difficulty arises when it turns out each individual in the procession has his own particular favorite when it comes to things like anthems, a favorite which he adheres to and has spent countless hours memorizing. The resulting cacophony reminds you of those nightmares in which you are sliding down an icy mountain slope toward certain annihilation and the geese are flying by overhead. In your nightmare, the geese know the language, though they speak it with a marked accent, and their commentary is much too wry for most of the other people in your dream to accept. They label it out-and-out cruelty and have such a hard time forgiving the birds for what they’ve said about you (long since you have crashed to earth and are either dead or resurrected), they refuse to speak of the incident even with their closest friends or spouses. They spit on the floor instead as shorthand. They try desperately to keep their head and shoulders, their entire bodies really, from spasming uncontrollably with the memory of it, but they fail. You suspect the entire population will turn, eventually, to medication and they will hold you partially or even wholly to blame. They will have forgotten all about the role of the geese in the situation by then. Some of them will even have taken their children to the pond located in the cemetery where you have been buried (if, in fact, you were not resurrected, something most in your entourage secretly believed would be the case) in order to feed the geese wadded up pieces of bread.